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In Downtown Brooklyn, Flemish Revival building may be replaced by a 23-story tower

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A developer submitted an application to demolish the early 20th century building that boasts terra cotta details

Courtesy of Justin van Deursen

In Downtown Brooklyn, an early 20th-century building with terra cotta figures may be replaced by a 23-story tower, Brownstoner first reported. Located at 308-310 Livingston Street, the three-story brick structure was built in 1911.

Documents on file with the Department of Buildings show that in October, architecture firm Fogarty Finger filed an application to build a new 23-story building, and in May, filed another one for full demolition. Department of Finance documents show that the building was sold for $11 million to Lonicera Partners (Livingston Owner LLC).

Justin van Deursen, a graphic designer and preservationist, hoped the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) would consider protecting the building and submitted a Request for Evaluation (RFE) in January. In researching the property, Van Deursen found that the building had been used as a meeting site for early followers of the Bahai’i religion, which he included in his request to the LPC.

“This unique Flemish Revival building is a rare example of an architectural style that nods to New York’s days as a Dutch colony and was the only known foray into this style by a pair of master architects, John J. Petit and Henry P. Kirby,” van Deursen’s request reads.

“The building’s polychrome terra cotta figures and ornamentation,” van Deursen says, “are reminiscent of Amsterdam row houses.”

But in a letter sent in February, the LPC said that the structure “did not rise to the level of architectural significance and integrity.”

“We are continuing to study Downtown Brooklyn to identify historic preservation opportunities,” the LPC added.

A 2004 City Planning Commission document from the time when Downtown Brooklyn was rezoned shows that 308-310 Livingston Street was included in a list of buildings to be considered as possible landmarks. Another document from that time shows that the building was deemed eligible by the LPC to be a landmark, in 2002.

According to The Real Deal, the new building, developed by Lonicera Partners would have 160 units, 109,331 square feet of residential space and 6,459 square feet of commercial space, as well as a rooftop deck and a fitness center.

“I hope the developer will take into consideration its uniqueness and might consider incorporating the facade into their development,” van Deursen told Curbed. “The last thing Downtown Brooklyn needs is another glass tower that looks like the rest.”